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Which Lugged Steel All-Rounder?

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Which Lugged Steel All-Rounder?

Old 04-07-20, 03:18 PM
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c0rbin9
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Which Lugged Steel All-Rounder?

Hi guys, I've recently been bitten by the bike bug and need your thoughts on building or buying a high performance all-rounder for mostly road use, with vintage lugged frame, basically something like the Bridgestone XO-1. As I understand it, there are several routes people take in building a vintage-based hybrid (all-rounder, townie, gravel bike, whatever you want to call it):

-high end vintage touring frames with 650b conversion or fat 700Cs (Trek 620, Miyata 610, Specialized Expedition, etc.),
-vintage rigid MTB frames (Bridgestone MB-1/2, Stumpjumper, etc.),
-early 90s hybrids (Bridgestone XO-1, Schwinn Crosscut, Trek Multitrak 790, Miyata Triple Cross)

Can anyone help me understand what might be the difference in riding characteristics between these three, particularly with reference to frame geometry? I'm trying to understand what I prefer from the outset, so as to avoid trial and error with multiple bikes. I'm assuming the mountain bike will have a completely different feel compared to the touring bike, even if they have the same handlebars and tires. Which would be best for primarily road use? Sorry if this question is too obvious, admittedly I haven't had much experience on any of these bike styles so I'm hoping someone can spell it out for me.

Another thing I've been wondering as a newbie is whether it's possible to have an upright, comfortable riding position with drop bars. My initial thought was to go with flat or even mustache bars for more comfort, but the overwhelming popularity of drop bars has me thinking otherwise.

Lastly, here are a few pics of builds (and stock bikes) I have come across of the style I'm talking about. Thanks!




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Old 04-07-20, 03:25 PM
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Finding the bikes you list is not easy, especially ones that are in your size. Start by looking for one you like, then you change it as desired.

Yes, you can have a more upright position with drop bars.
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Old 04-07-20, 03:51 PM
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What are you planning on using the bike for?

It's tough to beat vintage MTBs price wise when looking for an all rounder but converting one to drops (if that is what you want) is a bit of a PITA.
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Old 04-07-20, 03:53 PM
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Originally Posted by c0rbin9 View Post

Can anyone help me understand what might be the difference in riding characteristics between these three, particularly with reference to frame geometry?
IMO it's impossible to answer this with any accuracy. Two identical bikes with different frame sizes can ride differently. Find a bike you might like, test drive it to make sure it's in your ballpark and then buy it. The you dial it in to make it something you want to ride. I don't think there's any shortcuts online. You know the models that are recommended so go try to find one in your size and price range.Perhaps a hybrid would emulate a gravel grinder with less fuss.
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Old 04-07-20, 04:05 PM
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Don't try to hit a home run on your first try. Get a bike that's pretty close to your desired needs in good condition for a decent price.

And then, 6 months from then, you'll probably do the same thing. Finally, on your third try, you might hit gold!

I don't want to be pessimistic, but you should know that having a specific goal in mind from the get go could disappoint you.
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Old 04-07-20, 04:22 PM
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Why not go for the original 'all arounder' The Bianchi Volpe? While it might be a basic bike to many it does have a quality full ChroMo frame and fork, lots of brazeones and good tire clearance. The '86 and '87 both had a real fork crown! If you look for a '89, '90 and '91 Equinox you'll get a Tange Prestige frame.

The '86 Volpe pretty much stock



After several makeovers this is how she is currently fitted out. Pretty much everything but the seat post and cantilevers have been changed



The '89 Equinox is pretty much perfect (well for a shipmano equipped bike) with the Prestige frame and mix of Deore XT and 600. I was lucky enough to score this example with about 100+/- miles on it.
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Old 04-07-20, 04:23 PM
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You need to be more specific on what your planned use is for the bike. What does "high performance all-rounder for mostly road use" mean? When most people think of road bikes they are typically thinking of a bike that will be ridden long distances 50 to 100 miles plus per day and/or perhaps used for racing. This means a drop bar road bike. If "mostly road use" means part time on gravel and dirt trails, then you will be looking for something substantially with wide tires. If by "road use" you are talking about 10 mile or shorter commutes or grocery shopping trips, then you may be looking for something else. Please try to explain exactly what you want the bike for so that we can help you.

Also, your idea that mustache bars or flat bars provide comfort is off base IMHO. Flat bars are used on mountain bikes because they provide leverage. However, the lack of multiple hand positions makes them very uncomfortable on long rides, and if you will be riding at speed on the road then they provide no positions that will allow you to duck out of the wind. Ditto for mustache bars, which I find even more uncomfortable because I find that they force me to ride with my wrists twisted an an uncomfortable angle. Drop bars or butterfly bars provide much more versatility. There are also other bars out there like VO Crazy Bars that provide good positioning.
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Old 04-07-20, 04:51 PM
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It's easy to end up with a converted MTB that handles a bit like a truck. Ask me how I know. I have one that's quite rideable in every respect, but the handling is just a bit "different"

Have also gone the route of the tourer, and have ended up with a couple lovely bicycles that have very stable handling, but which are just plain heavy. Not bad if you're a very strong rider, or don't have many hills.

Of your three categories, I think the hybrid is best suited. However... you're overlooking the Sport Touring category. If you can find one of those that has generous clearance, you may find your sweet spot. These were actually quite the norm back in the 70's.

Baby bear:



Papa bear:




Mama bear - ex 1 (with extensive modifications):




Mama bear - ex 2 (fewer modifications) This is my intended Cino rig. Could do nearly the same with a Grand Sports, a Super Course, or even a Grand Prix if you don't mind stepping to a slightly heavier, non-531 frame.


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Old 04-07-20, 05:12 PM
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Originally Posted by USAZorro View Post
It's easy to end up with a converted MTB that handles a bit like a truck. Ask me how I know. I have one that's quite rideable in every respect, but the handling is just a bit "different"

Have also gone the route of the tourer, and have ended up with a couple lovely bicycles that have very stable handling, but which are just plain heavy. Not bad if you're a very strong rider, or don't have many hills.

Of your three categories, I think the hybrid is best suited. However... you're overlooking the Sport Touring category. If you can find one of those that has generous clearance, you may find your sweet spot. These were actually quite the norm back in the 70's.
Interesting, it makes sense that hybrids would be the best suited since they are purpose built, it's too bad all the 80s/90s hybrids I know of are budget/midrange, with the notable exception of the XO series.

It's a bit difficult to define my use - if I'm honest it's more just that I want a cool bicycle that can do a little bit of everything. This would be for short pleasure rides in the neighborhood or city, mostly on the road, but which may include broken asphalt, curbs, light dirt paths, etc.
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Old 04-07-20, 07:00 PM
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Randy posted this Fisher the other day and I love it. An early hybrid with a cross sensibility. Also, the Miyata range are nice, especially the aluminum Quickcross.
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Old 04-07-20, 07:08 PM
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Originally Posted by USAZorro View Post

Mama bear - ex 1 (with extensive modifications):


Mama bear - ex 2 (fewer modifications) This is my intended Cino rig. Could do nearly the same with a Grand Sports, a Super Course, or even a Grand Prix if you don't mind stepping to a slightly heavier, non-531 frame.
Those early-70's Raleighs are great canvases for what you seek. In this configuration my International handled a variety of surfaces with style:



In it's current build it could still handle the rough stuff, running an 8-speed internal gear hub. It's optimized for urban commuting and errands, but the OP did show at least one upright build.



Many moons ago I re-imagined an early-90's Ross hardtail as a road warrior. It was a fun ride that I gave to a friend when I moved from the 'burbs to Manhattan.

Pretty sure that's the same Blackburn rack that's on the International now.

As others have said, don't overthink it. Jump in, have fun and let it evolve as you go.
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Old 04-07-20, 07:49 PM
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Originally Posted by c0rbin9 View Post
Interesting, it makes sense that hybrids would be the best suited since they are purpose built, it's too bad all the 80s/90s hybrids I know of are budget/midrange, with the notable exception of the XO series.
The Trek 790, and white 520 in your photos, (which was mine) are the same frame geometry and have Deore DX components. This was 2nd tier below XT back then and I wouldn't consider these mid range. These do have a high BB and stand over compared to modern bikes.
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Old 04-07-20, 09:00 PM
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One vote for a 93 or earlier Trek 900 series. I just picked up a 950 frame/fork and it seems great.
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Old 04-07-20, 09:24 PM
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I really like fat tires. I put the biggest tires on most all of my bikes. I have a few that I use everywhere. Either of my Centurion Pro-Tours; 81 & 83, My Fuji Stratos, and a couple of Super Courses.
Get a bike find what fits and ride it.
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Old 04-07-20, 10:21 PM
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Originally Posted by katsup View Post
The Trek 790, and white 520 in your photos, (which was mine) are the same frame geometry and have Deore DX components. This was 2nd tier below XT back then and I wouldn't consider these mid range. These do have a high BB and stand over compared to modern bikes.
Yep, the Trek 790 is high on my list right now. They aren't exactly common, it seems.
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Old 04-07-20, 10:38 PM
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Originally Posted by c0rbin9 View Post
Yep, the Trek 790 is high on my list right now. They aren't exactly common, it seems.
They are 30 year old bikes, finding exact bikes you want takes awhile. I have been looking for years for some of the vintage bikes I want, I'm sure others here have done the same.
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Old 04-07-20, 10:52 PM
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Besides eBay, I use searchtempest to search Craigslist nationwide, my plan is to email everyone who has one and ask if they'll ship, maybe I'll get lucky.
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Old 04-08-20, 07:05 AM
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If you are on a budget, FB marketplace or Craigslist. Shipping is going to add ~ $100 to the acquisition.


+100 Old school rigid frame MTBs are so adaptable.


Drop bar conversion, note handlebar height is slightly higher than saddle height (old rider, not so flexible), 1984 Trek:

fullsizeoutput_915 by bill, on Flickr



Schwinn Sierra MTB, North Road handlebars:

fullsizeoutput_3d2 by bill, on Flickr


1992 Trek 950 with trekking bars (simplest change by far):

trek 950 010 by wrk101, on Flickr


Schwinn Cimarron Insanity:

Four of a Kind by wrk101, on Flickr
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Old 04-08-20, 08:23 AM
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Originally Posted by c0rbin9 View Post
Interesting, it makes sense that hybrids would be the best suited since they are purpose built, it's too bad all the 80s/90s hybrids I know of are budget/midrange, with the notable exception of the XO series.

It's a bit difficult to define my use - if I'm honest it's more just that I want a cool bicycle that can do a little bit of everything. This would be for short pleasure rides in the neighborhood or city, mostly on the road, but which may include broken asphalt, curbs, light dirt paths, etc.
Yeah, that's true about hybrids. They were nearly always budget to midrange models.

I think you could be happy with a converted vintage touring bike, or a converted higher end vintage MTB. For me, I'd go the touring bike. I ride my Mercian touring bike on dirt all the time. Same thing with my PX10. No problem. If you do a 650B conversion, it will give you some extra wheel strength to work with, as well as fatter tires obviously. However, this is perhaps a bit overkill for the riding you describe. I use my Clem for that stuff usually. (basically a modern 80s MTB)

The mention of curbs concerns me a bit. I ride road bikes over curbs all the time, but I at some point learned how to hop them and crawl them without stressing my wheels. Takes practice. If you plan to roll on or off of curbs, definitely go vintage MTB. (Even then curbs should be bunny hopped.) Also important is your weight. Over 200, think MTB. 150, convert a touring bike. In between, your call.
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Old 04-08-20, 08:52 AM
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Originally Posted by davester View Post
Also, your idea that mustache bars or flat bars provide comfort is off base IMHO. Flat bars are used on mountain bikes because they provide leverage. However, the lack of multiple hand positions makes them very uncomfortable on long rides, and if you will be riding at speed on the road then they provide no positions that will allow you to duck out of the wind. Ditto for mustache bars, which I find even more uncomfortable because I find that they force me to ride with my wrists twisted an an uncomfortable angle. Drop bars or butterfly bars provide much more versatility. There are also other bars out there like VO Crazy Bars that provide good positioning.
Lots of European touring cyclists would disagree with you. But then again, they often add bar-end grips (i.e. Ergon) that offer additional hand positions to the point that they might as well be butterfly bars.
While I like drop handlebars the much larger grip area of flat bars with proper grips can be much more comfortable in the long run. It's just the ability to switch position much more easily that makes drop bars a good option in some cases for long-distance riding.

As for OP:
Originally Posted by c0rbin9 View Post
Hi guys, I've recently been bitten by the bike bug and need your thoughts on building or buying a high performance all-rounder for mostly road use, with vintage lugged frame, basically something like the Bridgestone XO-1. As I understand it, there are several routes people take in building a vintage-based hybrid (all-rounder, townie, gravel bike, whatever you want to call it):
  1. high end vintage touring frames with 650b conversion or fat 700Cs (Trek 620, Miyata 610, Specialized Expedition, etc.),
  2. vintage rigid MTB frames (Bridgestone MB-1/2, Stumpjumper, etc.),
  3. early 90s hybrids (Bridgestone XO-1, Schwinn Crosscut, Trek Multitrak 790, Miyata Triple Cross)
Another thing I've been wondering as a newbie is whether it's possible to have an upright, comfortable riding position with drop bars. My initial thought was to go with flat or even mustache bars for more comfort, but the overwhelming popularity of drop bars has me thinking otherwise.
Your options are probably sorted in order of how expensive they are going to be in the US. 90's MTB's were very high-tech with lightweight tubing but because of that they are quickly shooting up in price.

Higher-end hybrids had something similar going on as a last 'tour de force' in the mid-90's before aluminum and carbon fibre took over. (Koga-)Miyata is a good example of this and I have personally seen a few examples from Gazelle and Bianchi for example here in Europe.

Last year I rebuilt this 1995 Gazelle Lausanne Hybride X-tra Lite as an all-round commuter for my girlfriend. It might not look like much before but it turned out to be a really nice bike with some modern changes.

Before:


After:
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Old 04-08-20, 07:23 PM
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For anyone interested, here is a list of candidates I have compiled.

MTB:
*Miyata Terra Runner (relaxed geometry)
*Diamondback Ridge Runner (relaxed geometry)
*Specialized StumpJumper (pre-1987 relaxed, post aggressive)
Specialized RockHopper
*Bridgestone MB-1/MB-2
Schwinn High Sierra (pre-1985)
Schwinn Cimarron
*Trek 950/970/990
Diamondback Ascent/Apex
Univega

*1992 XO-1 - Purple Metallic or **Pearl Tusk**
1992 X0-2 - Dark Green Metallic or Pearl White
*1993 XO-1 - Orange
*1993 XO-2 - Purple Metallic
*1993 XO-3 - Dark Metallic Green or Red
1994 XO-3 -

Hybrids:
*Schwinn Crosscut
***Trek 790 Multitrak
Bianchi Advantage
*Miyata Triple Cross
Specialized Crossroads
**Gary Fisher Sphinx
**Diamondback Overdrive/Override

Touring:
Bridgestone RB-T
Bridgestone T-500
Bridgestone T-700
Centurion Pro Tour 15
Centurion Elite GT 15
Fuji Touring Series IV
Fuji Touring Series V
Fuji Del Rey
Fuji America circa 1980
Lotus Odyssey
Miyata 610
Miyata 1000
Nishiki Continental
Nishiki Cresta GT
Nishiki International (note, not all years are full CrMo or full touring)
Nishiki Riviera GT
Nishiki Seral
Novara Randonee
Panasonic PT-3500
Panasonic PT-5000
Panasonic Pro Touring
Panasonic Touring Deluxe
Raleigh Alyeska
Raleigh Kodiak
Raleigh Portage
Raleigh Super Tourer
Raleigh Touring 18
Schwinn Paramount P15-9 Tourer
Schwinn Passage
Schwinn Super Sport, 1981
Schwinn Voyageur/Voyageur SP
Specialized Sequoia
Specialized Expedition
Trek 520
Trek 620
Trek 720
Univega Gran Tourismo
Univega Specialisima

The asterisks denote bikes which were higher-end in the model line ups and/or ones of particular interest. I have the Bridgestone XO bikes in a separate category with each model listed. Only the models marked with an asterisk have lugged frames. Strangely, the XO-2 from the first year of production didn't have a lugged frame, but the XO-3 from the following year did.

I've come to realize my riding distances are so short that a vintage mountain bike with it's utility would probably serve best. It seems production vintage mountain bikes fall into two distinct groups - first, the early mountain bikes from '82-'87 or so, which had more upright riding positions and heavier build, and second, bikes from the late 80s-early 90s which had more racy riding positions and which were lighter than the older models. Is this a fair assessment? And if so, what do these differences mean for the bike's use as a light trail/short distance city runabout?

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Old 04-08-20, 07:32 PM
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USAZorro -

Those old Raleighs you have are just beautiful, and what you say about 70s Sport Tourers being a sweet spot in terms of weight vs handling sounds very reasonable. If my intended use was for putting in more miles, I think those would be a perfect sort of retro gravel bike.
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Old 04-08-20, 07:44 PM
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A bit more info: when I was in college, I commuted to and from class on a Schwinn High Plains from around 1991, which at the time was still a very old bike. I couldn't have cared less about bicycles at the time, but I still remember how beautifully springy and compliant the ride was with the steel frame and big mountain bike tires. For the short distances I was traveling, it was perfect for navigating around obstacles, cutting across paths, bunnyhopping up curbs, etc. Since the trails around my house are of a similar distance and type, I think the comfort and agility of a vintage MTB may be the ticket. I also just discovered that we have a moderately technical single track trail right near my house, which makes me lean in favor of the mountain bike rather than the 700C-based hybrid.
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Old 04-08-20, 07:48 PM
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Can anybody tell me what the handlebars on the Trek in the OP are?
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Old 04-08-20, 07:57 PM
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Originally Posted by polymorphself View Post
Can anybody tell me what the handlebars on the Trek in the OP are?
Here's a link to the whole build:

https://bikingtoplay.blogspot.com/20...onversion.html

I'm sure the author will appreciate it since I stole his picture after all.
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